Jeff Angileri
Sep 10, 2008, 9:48 PM

It's a public health problem that affects every race, age, and gender in this country. And many people don't want to talk about it--suicide.

Its more common than you might think - more than 32,000 Americans take their own lives every year. That's 89 people per day; one every 16 minutes.

Friends and family members of the victims are often left with unimaginable feelings of sadness, guilt, and shock...people like Melissa Mieden of Blanchardville, who lost her brother four years ago.

Wade was a good person and he loved his family and he was a good father, she said.

Her 30-year-old brother Wade had committed suicide, leaving behind a devastated family, stricken with grief.

It wasn't like he died of complications of heart disease, or a car accident, or someone else took his life. This is a decision he made due to his unhappiness, Mieden said. And he had a family that loved him.

Melissa says she and her brothers had a normal, happy childhood in Blue Mounds, WI. But when Wade became a teenager, he started battling depression, and went through major personality changes.

Things that would normally hit you as a situation, hit him a little harder.

Doctors say that's a major symptom of suicidal tendencies.

People who have a clinical depression, a major depression, substance use - those types of things certainly make people at higher risk, said Dr. James Worledge, Director of Psychiatry at St. Mary's Hospital.

Talking, experts say, is the best prevention method. Communication can literally save lives.

Worledge said, The idea is that someone can connect with them, someone who already has a relationship with them, and can promote the sense of hope.

Don't be afraid to step in, said Mieden. Don't be afraid to say something that might make them mad, just by asking them 'are you considering hurting yourself?'

Mieden is doing her part to remove the stigma associated with suicide and to raise money for prevention and awareness.

She started the Wisconsin suicide prevention community walk. This year, it's happening Sunday, September 28th, at Vilas Park in Madison.

On the web: http://www.afsp.org

CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/dvp/suicide/